WRITTEN BY DR HILARY R NASH BSc. (Hons) MB ChB . MRCGP
LEG 6 PANAMA TO THE GALAPAGOS WITH TRAVELEDGE
As a doctor I try hard every day to help educate and inform people about how to improve their health. I advise about quitting smoking, I encourage them to eat better and be more active. I also try to help set them a good example by being a visibly fit and healthy doctor myself. It is interesting how many of my patients notice how I avoid using the intercom system and walk down the corridor to call them through!
I also have a reusable water bottle and coffee cup next to me at my desk. Another, slightly more subtle message about how to lead a healthier, more environmentally mindful lifestyle. Unfortunately, the vast overconsumption of plastics globally is having a huge impact on human health. Our ecosystems are sick, some of them are dying, and humans are an integral part of those ecosystems.
Dr Hilary onboard SV TravelEdge (Photo credit: Sasha Francis)
We know that plastics are made from petrochemicals (fossil fuels), and that global overuse of this finite energy source is causing enormous environmental pollution and contributing to climate change. We also know that plastic pollution degrades in our oceans and not only into those tiny microplastics that are entering the food chain to be consumed by us. Elements of those petrochemicals have been found in our blood. We know that some of these chemicals can mimic our own hormones and can trigger our body to respond in similar ways that may disrupt our own natural biorhythms. What other effects are these chemicals having on us?
Even more concerning is that, according to the latest research, actual tiny pieces of plastic are showing up in our bloodstream. We know that bacteria and viruses adhere to these tiny objects. Could they be a new reservoir of disease? Can these particles cross the blood brain barrier? There are so many questions, and I hope to help eXXpedition with finding the answers.
Microplastics collected onboard Leg 6 (Photo credit: Sasha Francis)
There is one thing I do know, and that is that our health depends on our choices. Anyone who smokes knows they should give up. Some people choose not to, but those that do feel great afterwards! Can we choose to give up polluting our world and our bodies with pointless plastic?
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